If you have spent some time on this blog, then you should understand the value of working with a bankruptcy attorney. Not only can a dedicated legal representative be your best asset in a courtroom, they offer the emotional confidence that everything will be all right in the end. It can be trying and frustrating at times, and that is exactly why you should hire an attorney.
That being said, there are some things you can do on your own to prepare for meeting with a bankruptcy lawyer that will not only help you get a better idea of where you stand but it will help your attorney do an even better job for you.
For example, prepare as best as possible a breakdown of any income taxes that you owe, regardless of when they were due. Your mortgage is also a crucial component of your preparation, so it will help for you to find out what your home is worth, which can be ball-parked by looking at online county tax records. Know that tax value (the number on which your property taxes are based) and market value (the number at which an agent can sell it) are much different. In Wake County, for example, you can see a record of recent sales around your address. This is a solid enough breakdown for your purposes.
Find the value of your automobiles and determine what is owed and how far behind you may be. Then, create a total for all monthly bills. This can include utilities, credit card payments, home phone and cell phone, Internet, gym memberships, movie rental clubs or subscriptions of any kind. Be as thorough as possible; if you send a check somewhere each month, document it.
You should also consider gathering copies of the following documents:
- * pay stubs for the last 60 days
- * all mortgage documentation
- * most recent income tax returns
- * any court papers relative to current lawsuit or legal action in which you are involved
- * divorce decrees, martial settlement agreements, etc.
- * paperwork of any kind accumulated from a credit counselor or financial assistance program
In order to help you, an attorney will need to be as comprehensive as possible when learning about your individual economic situation. The answers to their questions are critical to your bankruptcy success, so it will only help if you know as many of the answers as possible ahead of time. Don't worry, it's not a test, just a way to make sure you get as much assistance as you deserve. You may be asked:
- * What is your marital status? Or, is a wedding or divorce pending?
- * How long have you lived in the state?
- * Are you considering foreclosure?
- * What is your general living situation? Renting? Homeowner?
- * Is there any indication that you will be seeing a spike in medical expenses in the near future?
- * Have you spent more than $500 in the last 90 days with a single creditor?
You get the idea. These questions are rather general in nature but the answers to them will help ensure that initial meetings with your bankruptcy attorney are as beneficial as possible. Remember that once you have made the decision to move forward, you need to keep moving forward. Don't delay your future.
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